Hi, It's been a while since I have been able to post anything up here, so it is nice to be back.
Some time ago I was contacted by a client who was interested in having 4 swords made. Each sword would represent a different season and would be made by different smiths. I was lucky enough to be able to have get the season of fall.
I meditated on the concept for some time before I felt that my idea was appropriate. There is little evidence to suggest that the peoples of Northern Europe recognized the season of fall the way that we do today, and there are even fewer "seasonal motifs" in their art. This was tricky as I wanted to give a generous nod to the historical forms that were in use at the time and still capture the motif.
In the end I decided to try and capture the spirit of the time of year and some of the meaning it may have had for the people living in Northern Europe . I relied on a somewhat deeper symbolism that I feel is more appropriate to their artistic style rather than simply making a sword with leaves on it. Each of the designs carries a concept that reflects some aspect of the season or important activity.
My first idea was to make a harvest based sword. In the end I did not feel that this is truely appropriate. In reality much of the harvesting is finished before fall even begins, so while at first glance this may appear to be what i was trying to express my real goal was to describe a period after the harvest and before the winter sets in.
Much of the form of the sword is inspired by Late viking age work. The sword itself is a type AE and the art work is done in an inspired urness style that I feel is appropriate for the piece. The over all composition of the piece is highly influenced by the work of Jake Powning. Jake's work was what initially got me interested in blacksmithing and bladesmithing over 10 years ago and it continues to be an inspiration to this day. I have always wanted to make a " Powning Styled" piece and ultimately felt that his use of bronze and carved wood was what I would need to use to convey my ideas best. It is my hope that this may be seen as personal tribute to his work.
I will run through the images and give a brief description of their meaning.
I wanted the overall colour scheme to reflect the season. Bronze, darkened wood and the red hued leather wrapped handle reflect the treesand plants that are changing colour and becoming dormant.
On the guard is bound grain. This represents the grain having been brought in and already harvested. The pommel represents the culling of extra livestock that occours during this time of year. This represents much of the bounty of the season.
On the scabbard throat is a bound scythe, there is also an actual scythe folded into the edge of the blade steel. This represents the end of the scythes usefullness. There is no more work for it to do now, and it will no longer be of any help in the coming season. The straight laminate of the core is meant to symbolize the now empty furrows of the fields.
On the scabbard is a fruit tree. There are only a few piece of fruit and leaves left clinging to the tree. In the tree are two beasts. This is meant to reflect a certain amount of apprehension regarding the coming winter. While it is a time of plenty now who can say what the long winter will bring.
And finally one serpent on the chape. This serpent is meant to reflect the vital life energy of the earth retiring back under the ground in preparation for it's long sleep.
I hope you like it.